Motility and fertilizing capacity of epididymal human spermatozoa in normal and pathological cases

Fertil Steril. 1992 Apr;57(4):871-6. doi: 10.1016/s0015-0282(16)54973-5.


Objective: To investigate different factors involved in the outcome of in vitro fertilization (IVF) with epididymal spermatozoa in cases of vas deferens agenesis, with particular emphasis on sperm movement parameters.

Design: Prospective study in which sperm movement characteristics, level of puncture, and sperm preparation technique were studied relative to the outcome of IVF.

Setting: Département de Gynécologie, Oncologie Gynécologique, Sénologie, Médecine de la Reproduction, Hôpital Edouard-Herriot, Lyon France.

Patients: Thirteen couples underwent 15 IVF cycles. In 14 cycles (12 patients) epididymal spermatozoa could be recovered by surgical punctures. Epididymides were taken from 10 subjects in state of cerebral death to study epididymal spermatozoa under physiological status of the epididymis.

Results: The cleavage rate in IVF was low (25/158: 15.8%). In seven cases, embryo transfer was possible, leading to two twin pregnancies (4 infants born). Fertilization could be achieved with spermatozoa from the epididymis caput. Motility was paradoxically higher in the proximal epididymis than in the distal epididymis. In healthy epididymides, spermatozoa collected from the caput did not exhibit any progressive motility, whereas progressive motility was always present in the epididymis corpus.

Conclusions: Our study showed that forward motility could be observed in the epididymis caput in patients with congenital absence of the vas deferens and that fertilization and ongoing pregnancies could be obtained from caput spermatozoa. On the other hand, in physiological status of the epididymis, forward motility was observed only as from the corpus area, confirming observations in other species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Epididymis
  • Female
  • Fertilization in Vitro*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oligospermia / physiopathology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reference Values
  • Sperm Motility*
  • Spermatozoa / pathology
  • Spermatozoa / physiology*
  • Vas Deferens / abnormalities